Evaluating online engagement

I’ve mentioned before that we all really need to start evaluating the online engagement stuff we’re all doing. Alice Casey‘s presentation provides some great pointers for where to start and what to consider:

My main argument was that a good evaluation tells a compelling story through combining qualitative and quantitative information in a clear format to key decision makers and practitioners.

Be Vocal

Be Vocal is

A site about social media for social good in Birmingham and using the internet to turn public data into something useful.

It’s part of the ‘Birmingham Open City’ project run by Digital Birmingham with a grant from the Timely Information for Citizens programme set up by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Nick Booth is involved, so it must be good. Here he explains what it is all about:

LocalGovCamp very close indeed!

I can’t think of much other than LocalGovCamp now. Am literally widdly with excitement at what will be a fabulous day.

Despite the disappointment of a few folk having to drop out at this late stage, the demand for places has been such that substitutes have been found – we’re looking at over 120 people turning up to Fazeley Studios on Saturday morning. Fabulous.

Even better will be the great range of talks and discussions taking place. The beauty of open space events is that the agenda is decided by the people attending, so there’s no arbitrary decisions around what people might or might not find interesting. Some of the stuff includes:

  • How to engage online
  • A sneak preview of Help Me Investigate
  • “Encouraging active citizenship may be seem like a good idea, but it isn’t really”
  • The pros and cons of open source
  • Better use of Google Analytics
  • Is twitter worth bothering with
  • The Public Sector Web Professionals group
  • A social media toolkit for local gov
  • Debategraph
  • Less local government, more social innovation? From local government as an institution to local government as a community

…and many others. All of these sessions will be run by people like the people attending them practitioners talking to practitioners, nobody calling themselves experts, just lots of people with a desire to learn and a desire to share.

Don’t forget that even if you can’t be at the event, you can still join in via the blog, the Google Group, twitter and plenty of other online places. Remember, if you are creating online content, make sure you tag it with localgovcamp so we can bring it all together.

I’ve also started a twitter list of everyone attending, so that those new to twitter can find a bunch of useful people to start talking to. If you are coming, please add yourself. If you aren’t, then start following those on the list so you can keep up with what’s happening!

Finally, a few thank yous to people who have been so remarkably helpful in putting this event together: Vicky Sargent of Boilerhouse and Socitm; Nick Booth; Sammy Williams of Birmingham City Council; Kate Manion at Fazeley Studios; and of course everyone who has contributed via the Google Group or on Twitter.

Massive thank-yous as well to the supporters of the event, without whose sponsorship, this would simply have not got off the ground. You can find them listed on the blog’s supporters page. They are all good people, and should be praised for associating themselves with an event which is quite different from most others.

I doubt I will be back here again until after Saturday. Hopefully then I will be writing about what a success the day was, and where we will be going next with this.


Dom at FutureGov has launched the FutureGovNetwork:

We have developed this site as a really straight forward, open and easy to use place to start to capture those things that we all do to improve public services – share stuff we’re all working on wherever we are, look at what other people are doing and, most importantly, talk.

It’s a strikingly uncomplicated looking site, where you create a profile and then post stuff to a common area. Keeping the barriers to entry so low should ensure a high level of takeup.

Dom says of the development of the site:

You’ll notice we have decided to take a pretty unique approach to developing the network, developing it from the bottom up, starting simply and getting ideas from you the users on what we should focus on building next.

So let us know what you think of what we’ve got so far and tell us what else would be useful. We’ll try and make it happen – and quick! – or if we can’t then we’ll tell you why not.

Sounds good to me. I’m here, by the way.



Video hosting is always a bit of a bother, as no one service does it all, as far as I am aware.

I did a fair bit of social reporting last week, and am already running into difficulties in finding a hosting solution that can cope with the size of the files I am wanting to upload; and which is accessible within the organisations that need to see them.

It turns out that my usual favourite choice, Vimeo, is blocked in a hell of a lot of places.

Well, VideoPress looks like it might be worth looking into. It’s been created by Automattic, the guys behind WordPress and various other cool things. It’s a video upload and hosting service that uses WordPress.com as its back end, as far as I can tell. But you can embed your videos wherever you like.

Here’s a video explaining more.

Catching up

Has it really been two weeks since I last posted here? Well, I’ve been busy, doing stuff. I promise.

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the stuff I would normally have been writing about here during the whirlwind of the last fourteen days…

DIUS and BERR are no more, and will now be called BIS. BIS already has a corporate website set up, within days of the creation of the department, all thanks to WordPress. Steph explains how. Neil Williams also played a big part as the other half of the BIS digital dream team

A bit of work I have been doing with Neil at what was BERR and now BIS has been involved with the Digital Britain report, and some of the online engagement around the development of that. This included the live blogging at the Digital Britain Summit a little while ago, and now incorporates a whole host of online stuff to do with the launch of the report next week, as I wrote up on the DB blog.

Following the fun of the PSFBuzz event in Manchester, another one is now planned in Newcastle in July. Once again, it has a stella array of speakers, and as no one else has volunteered, I’ll be chairing again. All the details are on the PSF events page.

More PSF news comes in the form of the PSFBuzz Government Web 2.0 Awards, a gloriously bonkers idea to reward the best in interactive government web stuff at a ceremony in December this year. Sounds like it will be a lot of fun, not least because I’ll be among the judges!

Very sad news that Tom Watson has resigned from his position as Minister for (amongst other things) Digital Engagement. He pushed this agenda much further than any of his predecessors, perhaps because he was the first to truly understand the brief, and what was required. Am sure this will not be the last we hear from him, though, and I’m excited to find out what he will be doing next.

The fact that Sir Tim Berners-Lee is helping out on ‘public information delivery’ has got to be a good thing, though.

LocalGovCamp is now exactly a week away and to say that I am feeling excited about it is something of an understatement. We have a full house of delegates, a load of interesting ideas for sessions and now a gang of people are organising social events for the Friday and Saturday night. Thanks, guys.

Even more exciting is that fact that Google have offered to support the event, and will hopefully be sending some of their guys along to help out with some of the sessions which involve their stuff.

Finally, if you are interested in how press offices can incorporate social web stuff into what they do, Emma’s post is essential reading.

Bookmarks for May 17th through June 1st

Stuff I have bookmarked for May 17th through June 1st: